COVID-19: NJ names 21 Member COVID Taskforce

NJ has officially announced the 21 members of its COVID Taskforce.  According to Governor Murphy, the NJ taskforce “is composed of experts in a multitude of fields — from academia to industry to the arts to labor, and so much more,” he said. “They bring passion and vision to the table. And, if there’s anything we need right now, it’s both.”

The group will include 16 members and 5 ex-officio members from the Murphy administration. It will be co-chaired by Merck Chair and CEO Ken Frazier and former Princeton President Shirley Tilghman.

“They will address core economic issues, but also issues which directly impact economic health — notably public health, workforce issues and transportation,” he said. “And, they will seek ways to sustain our recovery by maximizing future federal support, especially for our small business sector.”

The members are:

Co-chairs:

Ken Frazier, Merck chairman and CEO;

Shirley Tilghman, president emerita of Princeton University and professor of molecular biology & public policy.

Sitting members:

Ben Bernanke, former two-term chair of the Federal Reserve and distinguished fellow in residence with the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution;

Rich Besser, CEO and president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
Evelyn McGee Colbert, founding board member and president of Montclair Film, and vice president of Spartina Productions;

Anthony Coscia, chairman of Amtrak, partner and executive committee member of Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, and chairman of Suez North America Inc.;

Jessica Gonzalez, founder and CEO of InCharged and founder of Experience VendX.

Jonathan Holloway, incoming Rutgers University president;

Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple Inc. and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama;

Jeh Johnson, former secretary of homeland security under Obama, and partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP;

Charlie Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial Inc.;

Denise Morrison, founder of Denise Morrison & Associates, senior adviser for PSP Partners and former CEO and president of Campbell Soup Co.;

Bill Rodgers, professor of public policy and chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor;

Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund;

The Rev. Dr. Regena Thomas, director of the Human Rights and Community Relations Department of the American Federation of Teachers and former New Jersey secretary of state;

Richard Trumka, national president of the AFL-CIO.

Ex-officio members:

Sheila Oliver, lieutenant governor;
Judith Persichilli, health commissioner;
George Helmy, chief of staff;
Matt Platkin, chief counsel;
Kathleen Frangione, chief policy adviser

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Paul Josephson, Elizabeth Mincer, James Greenberg or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: Update to Various State Construction Closure Orders – Continued Shifting Sands as States Refine and Modify Closure Orders and Essential Business Definitions

This list is current as of April 14, 2020 (4:00 p.m. EST) and is and Update to an earlier Alert we posted on April 3rd. Please note that these closure orders are changing almost daily so please make sure you are checking the applicable state in question when considering a closure question:

California:

California ordered that all workers must stay home, except workers deemed “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.”

Generally, construction workers are “essential” to critical infrastructure. Therefore, construction companies may continue to operate and construction workers may go to work.

Specifically designated as essential are:

• Workers who support the operation, inspection and maintenance of essential public works facilities and operations, including bridges, water and sewer main breaks, fleet maintenance personnel, construction of critical or strategic infrastructure, construction material suppliers, traffic signal maintenance, emergency location services for buried utilities, maintenance of digital systems infrastructure supporting public works operations and other emergent issues;
• Engineers, technicians and associated personnel responsible for infrastructure construction and restoration, including contractors for construction and engineering of fiber optic cables;
• Construction workers who support the construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction);
• Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, construction material sources and essential operation of construction sites and construction projects (including those that support such projects to ensure the availability of needed facilities, transportation, energy and communications; and support to ensure the effective removal, storage and disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste).

Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego:

These cities in California have each taken separate positions. Some have a more limited view of which construction is essential (e.g., San Francisco) and as such permit construction to remain operational in narrow circumstances, which is at odds with the state’s position on construction. Care should be taken in these cities to evaluate the state executive order in the context of city orders, noting that in most cases the more restrictive interpretation is likely to rule the day.

Delaware:

Delaware ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses.

Construction, however has been deemed to be an “essential” category. Therefore, construction companies may continue to operate and construction workers may go to work.

Specifically designated as essential in the order are:

• Workers who support the operation, inspection and maintenance of essential public works facilities and operations, including bridges, water and sewer main breaks, fleet maintenance personnel, construction of critical or strategic infrastructure, traffic signal maintenance, emergency location services for buried utilities, maintenance of digital systems infrastructure supporting public works operations and other emergent issues;
• Engineers, technicians and associated personnel responsible for infrastructure construction and restoration, including contractors for construction and engineering of fiber optic cables.
• Workers who are engaged in the construction of residential and nonresidential structures or infrastructure, and any workers who provide critical maintenance to residential or nonresidential structures;
• Businesses that supply materials and hardware to those engaged in the construction of residential or nonresidential structures;
• Workers involved in activities related to the design and apportionment of residential and nonresidential structures.

Washington, D.C.:

Washington, D.C., ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses except for “Minimum Basic Operations.”

“Construction and Building Trades” are, however, classified as “Essential Businesses” per the order. Therefore, construction companies may continue to operate.

The order specifically includes the following as essential under that category: plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, electricians, boilermakers, exterminators, roofers, carpenters, bricklayers, welders, elevator mechanics, businesses that sell supplies and materials for maintenance of commercial and residential buildings and homes, including “big box” supply stores, plumbing distributors, electrical distributors, HVAC distributors and other businesses that provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and operations of residences and essential businesses.

Florida:

Florida ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses. Florida has also ordered that all residents stay home unless leaving to perform an “essential services or conduct essential activities.”

Essential services includes the list detailed in the CISA Guidance, which was attached to the order, as well as businesses and activities designated essential by Miami-Dade County (see below). The state published a list of services deemed essential per the order.

The list includes:

• Workers who support construction in the petroleum, electricity, and energy industries;
• Workers who support the operation, inspection, and maintenance of essential public works facilities and operations, including bridges, water and sewer main breaks, fleet maintenance personnel, construction of critical or strategic infrastructure, traffic signal maintenance, emergency location services for buried utilities, maintenance of digital systems infrastructure supporting public works operations, and other emergent issues;
• Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC Technicians, landscapers, pool care service providers, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals, senior living facilities, any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response;
• Engineers, technicians and associated personnel responsible for infrastructure construction and restoration, including contractors for construction and engineering of fiber optic cables, buried conduit, small cells, other wireless facilities, and other communications sector-related infrastructure. This includes construction of new facilities and deployment of new technology as these are required to address congestion or customer usage due to unprecedented use of remote services;
• Suppliers, designers, transporters and other workers supporting the manufacture, distribution and provision and construction of essential global, national and local infrastructure for computing services (including cloud computing services and telework capabilities), business infrastructure, financial transactions/services, web-based services, and critical manufacturing;
• Workers supporting essential maintenance, manufacturing, design, operation, inspection, security, and construction for essential products, services, and supply chain and COVID 19 relief efforts;
• Workers performing housing construction related activities to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the nation’s existing housing supply shortage; and
• Workers supporting the construction of housing.
Generally, construction appears to be an essential business, but not all types of construction. Therefore, construction businesses should evaluate projects on a case-by-case basis.

Miami:

Miami has ordered that all nonessential retail and commercial establishments close.

The following, among other industries, have been deemed essential:

• Open construction sites, irrespective of the type of building;
• Architectural, engineering or land surveying services;
• Contractors and other tradesmen who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences and other structures.

Generally, construction appears to be an essential business, but not all types of construction. Though open construction sites may remain open, the Miami-Dade order does not specifically include construction that has not yet commenced, except for specific purposes. Therefore, construction businesses should evaluate projects on a case-by-case basis.

Georgia:

Georgia ordered the closure of all businesses that are not “critical infrastructure” except for minimal basic operations. The state has also ordered that all residents stay home unless conducting or participating in “essential services.”

“Critical infrastructure” refers to businesses defined as “essential critical infrastructure workforce” per the CISA Guidance. As explained above, many construction activities have been deemed to be “essential” per CISA and in general, construction and construction supply companies may continue operations. However, construction businesses should evaluate projects on a case-by-case basis.

Atlanta:

Atlanta has ordered that all nonessential businesses close and that residents of Atlanta stay at home unless engaging in essential activities. One exception is for residents to leave to “work for essential businesses.”
Construction was deemed essential infrastructure per the Atlanta order, but the state’s order preempts the Atlanta order. Construction businesses should follow state guidance.

Illinois:

Illinois ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses. Illinois has also ordered that all residents stay home unless leaving to perform an “essential function.”

The order categorizes construction as essential infrastructure. Therefore, construction companies may continue to operate and construction workers may go to work.

It specifically includes, but is not limited to: construction required in response to this public health emergency, hospital construction, construction of long-term care facilities, public works construction and housing construction.

Chicago:

Chicago joined in the announcement of the statewide order, which is more expansive and preempts its local orders.

Maryland:

Maryland ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses that are not part of the critical infrastructure sectors identified by the CISA guidance.

The Maryland Office of Legal Counsel published interpretive guidance, which includes “commercial and residential construction companies” in the list of businesses that are not required to close under the category of commercial facilities. Therefore, construction companies may continue to operate.

Massachusetts:

Massachusetts ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses.

Generally, construction is “essential” to critical infrastructure and construction companies may continue to operate.

Specifically designated as essential are:

• Construction workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction);
• Workers who support the operation, inspection, and maintenance of essential public works facilities and operations, including roads and bridges, water and sewer main breaks, fleet maintenance personnel, construction of critical or strategic infrastructure, traffic signal maintenance, emergency location services for buried utilities, maintenance of digital systems infrastructure supporting public works operations and other emergent issues;
• Workers―including contracted vendors―involved in the construction of critical or strategic infrastructure including public works construction, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, nuclear, oil refining and other critical energy services, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, and interne, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services);
• Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, inspectors and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, construction sites and projects, and needed facilities;
• Engineers, technicians and associated personnel responsible for infrastructure construction and restoration, including contractors for construction and engineering of fiber optic cables.

Boston:

Boston suspended all regular activity at construction sites.
Boston provided the following guidance:

• Employers should maintain the necessary crews to keep their sites safe and secure, keep any materials from blowing away, and prevent trespassing.
• After sites have been secured, skeleton crews will be permitted for the remainder of this suspension to ensure safety.
• The only work that will be permitted moving forward will be emergency work, which will need to be approved by the city’s Inspectional Services Department.

That essential work includes:

• Emergency utility, road or building work, such as gas leaks, water leaks and sinkholes;
• New utility connections to occupied buildings;
• Mandated building or utility work;
• Work at public health facilities, healthcare facilities, shelters, including temporary shelters and other facilities that support vulnerable populations;
• Work which ensures the reliability of the transportation network, and
• Other work necessary to render occupied residential buildings fully habitable.

Boston has a process to review requests for exceptions to the temporary construction moratorium. The Commissioner of Inspectional Services for building-related work or the Commissioner of Public Works for street-related work will grant exceptions if the construction will support increased public health and safety.

The Massachusetts order specifically supersedes any local order that interferes with the continued operations of COVID-19 Essential Services, and therefore likely preempts Boston’s suspension.

Nevada:

Nevada ordered the closure of “nonessential” businesses that either “promote recreational gatherings” or “promote extended periods of public interaction where risk of transmission is high.” The state also ordered all resident to stay home, subject to certain exceptions, which include performing work for Essential Infrastructure.

The order specifically permits the construction labor force to continue operating, with social distancing measures.

Las Vegas:

Las Vegas listed construction as an essential business, per the governor’s order.

New Jersey:

New Jersey ordered the closure of all nonessential construction.

“Essential construction projects” are defined as:

• Projects necessary for the delivery of health care services, including but not limited to hospitals, other health care facilities, and pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities;
• Transportation projects, including roads, bridges, and mass transit facilities or physical infrastructure, including work done at airports or seaports;
• Utility projects, including those necessary for energy and electricity production and transmission, and any decommissioning of facilities used for electricity generation;
• Residential projects that are exclusively designated as affordable housing;
• Projects involving pre-K-12 schools, including but not limited to projects in Schools Development Authority districts, and projects involving higher education facilities;
• Projects already underway involving individual single-family homes, or an individual apartment unit where an individual already resides, with a construction crew of 5 or fewer individuals. This includes additions to single-family homes such as solar panels;
• Projects already underway involving a residential unit for which a tenant or buyer has already entered into a legally binding agreement to occupy the unit by a certain date, and construction is necessary to ensure the unit’s availability by that date;
• Projects involving facilities at which any one or more of the following takes place: the manufacture, distribution, storage, or servicing of goods or products that are sold by online retail businesses or essential retail businesses, as defined by Executive Order No. 107 (2020) and subsequent Administrative Orders adopted pursuant to that Order;
• Projects involving data centers or facilities that are critical to a business’s ability to function;
• Projects necessary for the delivery of essential social services, including homeless shelters;
• Any project necessary to support law enforcement agencies or first responder units in their response to the COVID-19 emergency;
• Any project that is ordered or contracted for by Federal, State, county, or municipal government, or any project that must be completed to meet a deadline established by the Federal government;
• Any work on a non-essential construction project that is required to physically secure the site of the project, ensure the structural integrity of any buildings on the site, abate any hazards that would exist on the site if the construction were to remain in its current condition, remediate a site, or otherwise ensure that the site and any buildings therein are appropriately protected and safe during the suspension of the project; and
• Any emergency repairs necessary to ensure the health and safety of residents.

Though essential construction is broadly defined, not all types of construction are included. Therefore, construction businesses should evaluate projects on a case-by-case basis.

New York:

New York ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses. Initial guidance categorized construction as essential, but the state has since updated the guidance twice, narrowing the type of construction that is essential.

The most recent modification on April 9 and states that all non-essential construction must safely shut down, except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone, but only to the point that it is safe to suspend work).

Essential construction may proceed, to the extent that:

• the construction is for, or your business supports, roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or healthcare facilities, homeless shelters, or public or private schools;
• the construction is for affordable housing, as defined as construction work where either (i) a minimum of 20% of the residential units are or will be deemed affordable and are or will be subject to a regulatory agreement and/or a declaration from a local, state, or federal government agency or (ii) where the project is being undertaken by, or on behalf of, a public housing authority;
• the construction is necessary to protect the health and safety of occupants of a structure;
• the construction is necessary to continue a project if allowing the project to remain undone would be unsafe, provided that the construction must be shut down when it is safe to do so;
• the construction is for projects in the energy industry in accordance with Question No. 14 in the FAQ at: https://esd.ny.gov/sites/default/files/ESD_EssentialEmployerFAQ_033120.pdf;
• the construction is for existing (i.e. currently underway) projects of an essential business; or
• the construction work is being completed by a single worker who is the sole employee/worker on the job site.

At every site, it is required that the personnel working on the site maintain an appropriate social distance. Sites that cannot maintain appropriate social distancing, as well as cleaning/disinfecting protocols must close.

Enforcement will be conducted by state and local governments, including fines up to $10,000 per violation.
Construction may continue solely with respect to those employees that must be present at the business location/construction site in support of essential business activities. No other employees/personnel shall be permitted to work in-person at the business location/construction site. Any other business activities being completed that are not essential are still subject to the restrictions provided by Executive Order 202.

As noted above, local governments, including municipalities and school districts, are allowed to continue construction projects at this time as government entities are exempt from these essential business restrictions. However, to the greatest extent possible, local governments should postpone any non-essential projects and only proceed with essential projects when they can implement appropriate social distancing and cleaning/disinfecting protocols. Essential projects should be considered those that have a nexus to health and safety of the building occupants or to support the broader essential services that are required to fulfill the critical operations of government or the emergency response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

New York City:

The city has adopted the governor’s order. The New York City Department of Buildings issued guidance to owners and contractors regarding enforcement of essential versus nonessential construction in accordance with the order. The guidance was issued prior to the April 9 state guidance update, but appears to still be in effect.

Per the guidance, only the following projects will be permitted by the New York City Department of Buildings until further notice:

Emergency construction:

1. Project necessary to protect the health and safety of the occupants:
a. Emergency work ordered by the New York City Department of Buildings;
b. Restoration of essential services – heat, hot water, cold water, gas, electricity or other utility services; or
c. Work necessary to address any condition requiring immediate corrective action that severely affects life, health, safety, property or significant number of persons.

2. Project required to continue to the extent it would be unsafe to allow work to remain undone. Such projects may continue only until it is safe to shut the site.

Essential construction:

1. Utilities;
2. Hospitals or healthcare facilities;
3. Transitional and/or homeless shelters;
4. Affordable housing: Construction work on public housing, or a private or multiple dwelling or real property that is a new building (NB) or that is 100 percent vacant; or is work on unoccupied public housing units for the designation as housing for specific populations (i.e., shelter set aside, domestic violence referrals), or work on the exterior to address emergency conditions requiring immediate corrective action, set forth in Section 1(a)(iii) or within public housing, correction of critical systems for seasonal preparedness for the 2020-2021 heating season of an existing public housing building. Construction work on a private or multiple dwelling or real property that is a new building or that is 100 percent vacant that is now used or will be converted to such use: (i) For the provision of affordable inclusionary housing or mandatory inclusionary housing pursuant to the New York City zoning resolution; or (ii) Where no less than 30 percent of the residential units are subject to a regulatory agreement, restrictive declaration, or similar instrument with a local, state or federal governmental entity or a local housing authority in a city with a population of one million or more.
5. Other essential construction as approved by the New York City Department of Buildings.
Solo work- Work that is limited to a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.

Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania has ordered the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses. The state has also ordered all residents to stay home, unless supporting a life-sustaining business.

Construction, as a general category, is not “life-sustaining” per Pennsylvania’s published list of industry types. The state is permitting construction, but only for emergency repairs and for building healthcare facilities. Therefore, construction companies may not operate unless they fall under an exception or obtain a waiver from the state.

Philadelphia:

The state’s order preempts all prior Philadelphia orders, and therefore construction companies may not operate unless they fall under an exception or obtain a waiver from the state.

Texas:

Texas has closed only bars, dining establishments and gyms. Therefore, construction companies may continue to operate.

Various localities in Texas have enacted expansive business restrictions. As with all states, it is important to analyze local law to determine if there are restrictions for business operations.

Virginia:

Virginia has only ordered the closure of specific types of retail, recreational and entertainment businesses.

Therefore, construction companies may continue to operate.

About Duane Morris:

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Please see our COVID-19 site or contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact  Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer or any member of our COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

COVID-19: NJ extends GROW NJ, ERG and HUB Filing Deadlines

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has extended the annual reporting deadlines for businesses that received tax credits through the Grow New Jersey, Economic Redevelopment & Growth (ERG) and Urban Transit Hub (HUB) programs because of the impact of COVID-19, the EDA announced on April 13, 2020.

Per NJEDA’s announcement, under the extension, annual reports will be due 90 days after the EDA notifies businesses the restrictions imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy’s statewide stay-at-home order issued March 21 are no longer in effect.

Under existing rules for the Grow NJ and HUB programs, award recipients were required to submit an annual report 120 days after the end of the relevant tax period. Failure to submit the relevant report in a timely fashion results in forfeiture of the tax credit for that tax period.

Similarly, residential and mixed-use parking ERG approval letters require an annual report for a developer’s tax period within 120 days after the end of the tax period. Failure to submit this report in timely fashion results in the forfeiture of the tax credits for that tax period.

Per NJEDA, the ability to file on a timely basis was impacted last month, when Governor Murphy — through Executive Order 107 — announced the closure of all non-essential retail business, requiring all employers to offer work-form-home wherever practicable and directing all residents to abide by social distancing practices. The Governor has since announced subsequent containment measures.

About Duane Morris:

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Please see our COVID-19 site or contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact  Brad A. Molotsky, Paul Josephson, or any member of our COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Climate Change viewed as a Major Problem in NJ according to a recent Stockton University poll – Brad A. Molotsky, Duane Morris, LLP

According to a Stockton University poll released earlier this week, 2/3 of New Jersey residents believe climate change is a crisis and almost 75% believe it is affecting New Jersey.

Per Stockton’s press release, “the results show climate change is a concern to people all over New Jersey and not just those who live along the Jersey shore,” said John Froonjian, interim director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton, who presented an overview of the results at Coast Day at Stockton Atlantic City on Oct. 13.

As reported in Bisnow, among those who believe climate change is currently affecting NJ, more than 75% cited rising sea level, earth warming, harming or changing the ocean, extreme weather, and worsening pollution as major problems they are concerned about.

Beach erosion was cited by 70% as a major problem, while harm to farming was mentioned by 68%, flooding by 66%, and health effects by 57%.

More than half of respondents (56%) believe government could or should do more, and 31% say the government response is totally inadequate.

Per the poll, views did vary along party lines. Democrats (92%) and independents (64%) were more likely to see climate change as a crisis or major problem than Republicans (35%). Women (72%) were also more likely to view it as a crisis or major problem than men (62%).

The results also showed while young people are the most concerned about the issue, concern cuts across age, racial, ethnic, economic, gender and geographic lines. Almost 80% of respondents ages 18-29 see climate changes as a crisis or a major problem. That percentage drops to under 70% for those over 65.

We will continue to monitor trends and thinking in ESG and climate change and report back. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at bamolotsky@duanemorris.com and I will direct your question accordingly.

-Brad A. Molotsky, Esq., LEED AP – O+M

NJEDA launches Opportunity Zone Challenge Program – Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

On July 16th, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) launched its previously announced Opportunity Zone Challenge Program. The Challenge Program is a competitive $500,000 grant program aimed at supporting community efforts to attract investments in NJ Opportunity Zones. Grants awarded through the program will fund municipal and county-level financial and technical planning around Opportunity Zone (OZ) economic development.

The OZ program is a federal incentive program which was part of the 2018 Tax Act that enables investors to re-deploy capital gains into low-income areas (which are the areas targeted by the designated Opportunity Zones) via the use of a Qualified Opportunity Zone fund (QOF). These Qualified Opportunity Zone funds or QOFs may be self-directed and self-certified. Capital gains placed into these QOFs must then be invested into real estate or a qualified business within applicable opportunity zones that exist within all 50 states in the US.

New Jersey has 169 separate Opportunity Zones which span 75 municipalities across all 21 NJ counties.

According to NJEDA, the Challenge Program is intended to encourage and assist communities in developing specific action plans to guide their pursuit of Opportunity Zone–based investments. The Challenge Program will award 5 grants of up to $100,000 each to select municipal or county governments or municipal partnerships of 2 to 5 municipalities whose applications demonstrate a clear strategic plan to build investment capacity in their applicable Opportunity Zones. The Challenge Program grants are open to all 75 NJ municipalities and 21 counties.

As part of the application process, the applicants are required to designate at least one strategic partner whose external expertise will be used to achieve the Challenge Program’s goals.

Our team is available to answer applicable questions about the Opportunity Zone program and the Challenge Program. Brad A. Molotsky, Esq. (bamolotsky@duanemorris.com)